Sister Mary Eucharia Mitchell was born Grace Mitchell in Dunlap, California, in 1902. She received a BA in nursing and her RN certificate from University of California, Berkeley, and from University of California, San Francisco in 1925. After being baptized as a Catholic in San Salvador, El Salvador, where she was working in a hospital and helping to train X-ray technicians, she entered the religious order of the Good Shepherd Sisters in New York. Shortly thereafter, she moved back to San Francisco to take care of her ailing father. After his death, she decided to join the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in Oakland and began her novitiate in December 1929.
Sr. Eucharia started teaching at the College of the Holy Names in the early 1930s. Around 1940, Holy Names had added a Bachelor of Education in Nursing Science program, which would later become the University’s BSN program. Sr. Eucharia was responsible for the program from 1942 onward, and she added a laboratory technology component to enhance the major. Early nursing alumnae established the Sister Mary Eucharia Scholarship Fund to provide financial assistance to other RNs and to honor their wonderful instructor.
In the 1960s, Sr. Eucharia was contacted by a boy from Pleasant Hill named Eugene Callahan who’d found something intriguing at a nearby highway construction site; he had come across a large jaw bone and teeth and was wondering if Sr. Eucharia could help him identify it. After months of digging and excavation, Sr. Eucharia, Holy Names students, and Eugene were able to extract the entirety of the specimen from the site. The bones were later identified as having come from a species of woolly mammoth.
Sr. Eucharia continued to teach at Holy Names until 1975. She taught courses in subjects as varied as comparative and vertebrate anatomy, geology, physical anthropology, and physiology.